Healthcare’s biggest mobile device security challenge — is mobile devices

By Patricia Ross
Topics: Healthcare Mobile Device Management (MDM)

Hospitals and clinical practices must be aware of the threat of data breaches and patient health data theft as more health and wellness programs and procedure applications become available on mobile devices. Sensitive patient data is now accessible through mobile devices that often lack extensive security. Securing mobile devices in healthcare is key to keeping your entire organization healthy. In this blog post, we discuss the security strategies healthcare systems will need to put in place to assure mobile device security.

Trust No One

The common assumption with mobile devices is that they are more secure than say, your emails or even other devices like your laptop. Often this is not true. Remember mobile devices are “walking computers.” This means they are hackable, especially without the right safeguards in place. This can lead to potential HIPAA violations, not to mention, creating the risk of data breaches. To protect patient information and confidentiality, security should be a top priority.

Complexities for mobile device security in healthcare include:

  • Increased adoption of mobile devices means increased complexity of mobile security needs
  • Dramatic increase in the sheer number of devices being used and the variety, especially with BYOD
  • Challenges of implementing the proper security controls and safety protocols, even by the most technologically advanced teams
  • Strict and complicated federal privacy and security guidelines and the number of restrictions, requirements, and compliance standards
  • Smaller IT departments with a fraction of time or resources to focus on mobility management

This is where mobile device management (MDM) comes into play. Healthcare MDM solutions can make it a lot easier to protect yourself and your patients by shifting the weight of these challenges from individuals to state-of-the-art technology that can streamline management and strengthen security.

Best Practices for Mobile Device Security in Healthcare

Tip #1: ePHI policies

You must have policies in place that address if, how, and when employees are allowed to access, create, transmit, or store electronic patient health information (ePHI) on mobile devices—both corporate and personal devices.

Tip #2: Physical safeguards

If employees are permitted to remove devices from your physical location, make sure there are policies in place around not using public Wi-Fi, not leaving the device unattended, and what to do if the device is lost or stolen. With MDM you can track device locations as well as remotely wipe devices before they fall into the wrong hands.

Tip #3: User-authentication controls

A device that can’t be accessed is the safest device. However, it’s not functional. Balancing access with productivity is key. Multi-factor authentication can go a long way in protecting devices, as can strong passwords, biometrics, and privacy policies.

Tip #4:  Encryption

Whenever possible install or enable encryption on all mobile devices. Requiring encryption for devices to be enrolled in your MDM will enable you to enforce policies and maintain the desired level of IT security control.

Tip #5: Application policy

In the case of corporate devices, it’s best to lock down unapproved applications not just for security but also for employee productivity. File-sharing applications should also be banned. When it comes to BYOD, MDM can help you compartmentalize personal and corporate so that nothing is accidentally shared.

Tip #6: BYOD policies

As BYOD in healthcare increases, policies must be in place that employees can easily follow and understand why they must be followed. Security controls for BYOD and corporate-owned devices should be in step. MDM makes it simple to manage corporate data (and even wipe it) on personal devices without infringing on the users privacy.

Tip #7: Regular updates

Hackers target vulnerabilities in operating systems, and installing updates helps close those holes and protect patient data. MDM enables you to update systems on a regular basis for your entire fleet of users quickly and easily.

Tip #8: End-of-life/Disposal

With strict regulations around ePHI and HIPAA, it’s recommended that devices should be destroyed at their end of use instead of just wiping or purging the info and recycling the device.

It’s really just common sense when it comes to protecting your mobile devices. Treating mobile security with the same rigorous standards that you treat other sensitive forms of communication will help you avoid HIPAA violations and costly data breaches.

Healthcare mobility specialists

Vox Mobile has extensive expertise securing mobile devices in healthcare. We can help you develop comprehensive mobility strategies that enable you to get the most out of your mobility investment. Our team can help you throughout your MDM journey — from choosing the right solution for your organization’s needs through implementation and enrollment to support, we can help relieve your mobility headaches.

Vox Mobile can also help you get the most out of your mobility investment with licensing discounts, and manage your current licensing agreement, as well as drive enterprise adoption and reduce shelf-ware.

As healthcare continues in its expansion of mobile device uses, Vox Mobile is here to help. See how we have helped other healthcare organizations maintain HIPAA compliance and deploy thousands of devices with zero physician downtime.

Schedule a consultation and find out what we can do to keep your mobility healthy, from start to finish.